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The Bling Ring (#110 of 12)

The Films of Sofia Coppola Ranked

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The Films of Sofia Coppola Ranked

Focus Features

The Films of Sofia Coppola Ranked

There’s a routine of complaints traditionally leveled at Sofia Coppola. Beyond the faux pas of being born rich, she’s been drawn as more of a choreographer of tableaux than a storyteller. Critics have bemoaned her visions of character interiority signaled by dreamy music cues and symmetrical framing over wordy dialogues or dredged-up performances from her stars, who are inevitably blonde and beautiful. Particularly since Lost in Translation’s reverse-xenophobia meet-cute, Coppola has alternated between accusations of flaunting her privilege and hosannas for being honest about it.

But if The Virgin Suicides, Marie Antoinette, and (perhaps more debatably) Somewhere girded themselves against these considerations by putting their own haute-bourgeois blinkeredness front and center, the terrain is far murkier in Coppola’s The Beguiled. This is a filmmaker obsessed with feminine beauty and ephemeral tragedy of time’s passage—so just how boilerplate is her Civil War-era chamber piece supposed to be?

Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions Cinematography

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Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions: Cinematography
Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions: Cinematography

As R. Kurt Osenlund pointed out yesterday, there are plenty of categories more flashily controversial this year, but none have become as big a flash point among cinephiles as the cinematography prize. No demographic is more certain that one of Oscar’s longest-running contemporary injustices is its failure to coronate Emmanuel Lubezki, whose lucidly expressive images have now earned him six nominations and a near-fanatic cult devotion. Having to cope with the losses he’s suffered his last three times at bat—with The New World, Children of Men, and The Tree of Life respectively falling to Memoirs of a Geisha, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Hugo—are, for acolytes, like living in an alternate universe where John Alcott’s work on Barry Lyndon lost to Robert L. Surtees’s The Hindenburg, or Sven Nykvist’s lensing of Cries & Whispers lost to Surtees’s The Sting, or Néstor Almendros’s Days of Heaven lost to Robert Surtees’s Same Time, Next Year. Adding insult to injury last time around was the fact that Lubezki’s richly textured analog work in The Tree of Life was chewed up and spit out by the Academy’s now-insatiable sweet tooth for CGI-heavy 3D toy boxes, a trend that’s held for the last four years running.

The 20 Best Movie Posters of 2013

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The 20 Best Movie Posters of 2013
The 20 Best Movie Posters of 2013

What were the common threads among the finest film posters of 2013? Mustaches. Sunglasses. Font that boldly monopolizes the center of the design. And plenty of pink. A great movie poster can do a great many things, but it’s most important attribute is always the reminder that there are more ways to enticingly sell a film than with famous faces. Virtually every genre (and budget level) is covered in this roster of 2013’s best, proving that great marketing in this industry is by no means exclusive to one type or size of film. And though an ethical issue had a pivotal effect on the final results, it couldn’t tarnish a collection of vastly diverse aesthetic triumphs, which helped to richly enhance the cinema-going year.

Video: M83’s “Claudia Lewis,” Directed by Bryce Dallas Howard

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Video: M83’s “Claudia Lewis,” Directed by Bryce Dallas Howard
Video: M83’s “Claudia Lewis,” Directed by Bryce Dallas Howard

M83 has teamed up with actress turned director Bryce Dallas Howard for the music video for “Claudia Lewis,” a track from their 2011 album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. Part of MTV’s “Supervideos” series, which, according to the former music channel’s blog, pairs a “cool director” with “cool actors and even cooler music,” the video stars The Blind Side’s Lily Collins as a blue-wigged teen alien who infiltrates a local high school and The Bling Ring’s Israel Broussard as her terrestrial paramour. Dallas Howard was reportedly inspired by The Man Who Fell to Earth, the 1976 Nicolas Roeg film starring David Bowie, and even makes a nod to Dad’s 1984 hit Splash.

Understanding Screenwriting #113: The Bling Ring, The Heat, White House Down, Monsters University, & Unfaithfully Yours

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Understanding Screenwriting #113: <em>The Bling Ring</em>, <em>The Heat</em>, <em>White House Down</em>, <em>Monsters University</em>, & <em>Unfaithfully Yours</em>
Understanding Screenwriting #113: <em>The Bling Ring</em>, <em>The Heat</em>, <em>White House Down</em>, <em>Monsters University</em>, & <em>Unfaithfully Yours</em>

Coming Up In This Column: The Bling Ring, The Heat, White House Down, Monsters University, Unfaithfully Yours, but first…

Moving on: This is going to be my last Understanding Screenwriting column for The House Next Door. Don’t worry, it’s not going away for good, just moving to a new location. Earlier this year, I got an announcement from Erik Bauer, founder, publisher, and editor of Creative Screenwriting magazine. In addition to writing for the magazine, I was on the editorial board from 1994 to 2008, when the board was dissolved. Erik had sold the magazine and the Creative Screenwriting empire (website, screenwriting expo, etc.) to another man in 2007. Unfortunately, the recession came along the next year, and the magazine closed down in 2011. This spring Erik had what he called a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to buy back the Creative Screenwriting empire, and his announcement said that he’s intending to revive the magazine, beginning in 2014. In the meantime, he’s reviving the Creative Screenwriting website in August, and my Understanding Screenwriting column will be moving to it then. The new address will be www.creativescreenwriting.com, and he hopes to have the new website up the first week in August. I trust you will all come and visit and leave the kind of intelligent comments you’ve spoiled me with for the last five years. And I must finish my work here at the House with a great big “thank you” to both Keith and Ed for their support over the years.

Fan Mail: “shazwagon” raised the question in regard to the close-up of Jesse at the end of the opening scene in Before Midnight: “How do you know that it was the writer’s decision to show the close-up later?” That’s an easy case; since both the actor involved and the director were also the writers, we can pretty much be sure it came from them. In other cases, it can be a tricky question. Generally writers will make an effort to write in reactions for the characters (but not camera directions, since directors pay no attention at all to writers’ suggestions in that area). If, as in the close-up in Before Midnight, the reaction is related to everything else going on in the scene (here the counterpoint to the dramatic action with Jesse and Henry), then it almost certainly comes from the writers. If actors and directors in general are at the top of their form, you feel that the moment is happening now right in front of your eyes. Look at Jeff’s (James Stewart) reaction to the itch in an early scene in Rear Window. It seems the camera just happened to catch him when the itch did. Not so; it’s all laid out in John Michael Hayes’s great script.

David Ehrenstein is back to disagreeing with me and all’s right with the world. He thought Behind the Candelabra was better than I did. He especially liked the performances by Matt Damon and Michael Douglas. I liked the performances, but felt the script didn’t give them as much to work with as it could have.

The Bling Ring (2013; written by Sofia Coppola; based on the Vanity Fair article “The Suspects Wore Louboutins” by Nancy Jo Sales; 90 minutes.)

Sofia Coppola, meet W.E. Burnett and John Huston. You may remember that, in US#68, I found Coppola’s Somewhere very disappointing, but I also said we shouldn’t give up on Coppola. The Bling Ring shows why, and it’s one of her best films yet. Never give up on talent. Here Coppola’s minimalist style, which was a little too minimalist in Somewhere, is perfect for the subject.

Cannes Film Festival 2013: The Bling Ring Review

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Cannes Film Festival 2013: <em>The Bling Ring</em> Review
Cannes Film Festival 2013: <em>The Bling Ring</em> Review

Sofia Coppola’s fascination with the young and over-privileged reaches a logical plateau with The Bling Ring, a hyperaware consideration of celebrity intrigue and idolization. Based on the semi-recent wave of burglaries perpetrated by a group of high school kids on the unsuspecting gossip-rag regulars residing in the Hollywood Hills, the film depicts, with an alternately implicating and critical eye, the rise and fall of adolescent naïveté and entitlement. It’s a subject that Coppola has spent much of her career dramatizing across various milieus, from the suburban daydreams of The Virgin Suicides to the ornate, 18th-century re-imaginings of Marie Antoinette to the Los Angeles summertime sprawl of Somewhere. She’s remained in the City of Angels for her latest, but this is anything but a tale of wayward cherubs. Fueled by the very lifestyle they’re nonchalantly pillaging, this band of smalltime crooks have learned that actions rarely have consequences, and spend the entire film putting this theory, propagated and sustained by the media, to the fullest possible test.